The Excogitator

Interview with Yvette Kendall, Lead Excogitator at InventHer Solutions
By Vern Burkhardt
"There are many dissimilar things which can generate associations and connections. For example, when I'm watching TV sometimes I see components of my products come to life in the commercials.

It's almost like chemistry. If two or more things are meant to be together, they will let you know it." Yvette Kendall, Lead Excogitator at InventHer Solutions LLC.

Vern Burkhardt (VB): What is your role as 'Lead Excogitator'?

photo of Yvette KendallYvette Kendall: The term "inventor" doesn't seem to engender the same respect as in the Edison days so I wanted to have a title which would explain a bit about what the process is. To excogitate is to consider or think something out carefully and thoroughly.

I am the lead of the product development team of our company. I come up with new, interesting, sometimes important, and sometimes playful things that have been either over- or under-thought. And I bring them to the market.

VB: Sometimes playful things?

Yvette Kendall: I do get playful things to think about. My inventions are purposeful, meaning that they show up in my mind. I evaluate them, put them in a different perspective, and try to package them in a way that is meaningful to the marketplace. If someone called me and said, "Invent me something," it would take me forever because ideas just come to me versus me working to get them.

VB: I understand you have a considerable number of patents.

Yvette Kendall: I've created more than 30 patent-pending products that span several industries, ranging from scientific and technical to futuristic and recreational.

VB: You have been developing market-disrupting products since the early '90s. What led you to becoming an inventor?

Yvette Kendall: I have always liked to do something different, but in the early and late 90's I didn't think of myself as an inventor. I would see things that needed to be done, and would try to go about accomplishing them.

I had designed a couple of things that were not well received, and then I started to realize that people's minds are as open as TV commercials. If someone said, "Go buy or do something," that's what they would do. This in contrast to saying, "Hey, this would be futuristically great for the world or our organization."

VB: Is being an inventor like being an entrepreneur?

Yvette Kendall: If you look at a 'good twin/bad twin' comparison being an inventor is the 'bad twin' of being an entrepreneur. You have to bring things to people who have never heard of your idea, and who don't have the same vision as you have. You are basically trying to peddle a product that nobody wants!

VB: Why wouldn't this make you the good twin?

Yvette Kendall: It's the bad twin because it's hard to get people to open their minds and say, "Hey, I want to help you" whether the help be financial, physical assistance, a donation of time, or providing information about how to bring your idea to the market. People don't like to veer off the beaten path of what already exists so it's very hard.

VB: Do you find this surprising given the pace of change?

Yvette Kendall: I am always surprised about this. What surprises me even more is when you bring a new product, concept, or even a new way of thinking to a scientist or someone involved in a technology they may say, "I don't get it. It doesn't make sense. I can't see people wanting it." I'm surprised because they're in the business of bringing forth the impossible. It's taxing to talk to someone like this.

VB: Perhaps it's partially explained by the influence of our education and past experiences.

Yvette Kendall: Yes. Thank goodness I don't have an extensive education, because it has allowed me not to conform to a certain box or way of thinking. I am totally 'boxless'.

VB: What does it mean to be 'boxless'?

Yvette Kendall: Everything is an opportunity. Everything is worth looking into versus what we're used to and what people say makes sense. It also means being immune from the influence of someone in a higher position saying it makes sense.

Being boxless means one challenges everybody's thinking. I don't believe in science fiction. Instead, I believe in science faction, which is exploring links between neurology and human consciousness via art, culture, technology, music, design, and science. It's science that has not been proven to us yet. There is no box.

My mind gets to do whatever it wants. What's really funny is that an inventor could come up with something ten years ago about which people would say, "Oh, this would never make sense. Who would do that?" Then you see it in the marketplace and everybody is buying it. Ten years later people are saying, "Oh my goodness. I can not live without this particular product." You have to wonder what changed in the interim.

Consider the pet rock. It was the silliest notion ever but it made millions of dollars for the inventor of that particular idea. Who would have thought you would pay someone for a rock in a box when you can pick one up off the street, but it is what it is.

VB: This says something about the vulnerability of people to marketing.

Yvette Kendall: I've dealt with McDonald's Corporation and some other corporations about bringing new products to market. They say, "We need to get a focus group to see if people want this, that, or the other. The fact is, unfortunately, if you put a product into the marketplace and put it in the right light, people will tend to buy it by default. This is how the really big organizations work.

You see commercials that expound, "Oh you have a headache. Buy this." "Oh you have a urinary problem. Buy this." Consumers tend to be highly impressionable as far as buying newly introduced products.

VB: If you ask people in a focus group what they want, they can only think within their existing paradigm. This means they may not come up with brilliant new ideas. Speaking of which, would you describe how you get your inspiration for new products?

Yvette Kendall: It occurs from the time I open my eyes, and even while I'm asleep. I've had things come to me in the middle of the night, and I jumped up out of bed and wrote them down. I've had flashes of insights while watching television commercials where what was said made me realize they had missed out on developing an innovative product.

A typical day for me includes constant surveillance of everything. Once I have zoned in on a particular thing, it generates a fantasy for me and that in-turn creates an idea. As I said I watch television. I also look out the window, talk to my daughter, listen to the radio, and scan the Internet. Eventually things will pop out and identify themselves as things that need to be developed, much like the Bradley Cooper movie Limitless.

The idea for Cleencups, which has their outer layer treated with an anti-bacterial sanitizing coating, came to me while I was watching a Dixie cups commercial. I didn't get to hear the whole commercial my daughter was talking to me at the time. I saw a little boy running down a hallway to brush his teeth and he said something like, "Do you know what's on your children's cups when they brush their teeth?" My daughter interrupted me and by the end of the commercial I heard, "So use our cups. They're disposable and anti-bacterial." I thought this was great.

I waited to see the commercial again because I wanted to know when this new product was coming on the market. Instead, I found out they were messaging, "Use Dixie disposable cups because they don't have the time and opportunity to gather bacteria." You grab one, use it, and you throw it out so it doesn't sit on the kitchen counter gathering germs and bacteria. From this impression I developed Cleencups, which would actually kill germs, viruses, diseases, negative bacteria, staph, MERSA and HIV. They were only doing advertising for their product instead of actually doing anti-bacterial, disposable paper cups. It became an invention opportunity.

VB: Is what you're describing a process of incubating an idea through your subconscious?

Yvette Kendall: It's so instant and almost esoteric. It is odd because when the idea comes it figures itself out instantly. You see the beginning. You see what needs to be done to verify whether it will work. You know what needs to be done to bring it to market. And you see people walking around using it.

It is literally a 30-second thought process before one proceeds to research whether the product already exists. If not, you have to decide whether you want to develop it or whether it is even possible to do so. It unfolds before your eyes exactly the way you saw it in the 30-second blip of it becoming a product in your imagination. The science was worked out, the concept was worked out, and it was a unique product.

When I started to do research to verify the science underlying the Cleencups idea and prepare the concept for market, some people said what came to my mind in those 30 seconds was the only way it could be done. They said, "It makes so much sense that this happened, that you thought of it this way."

VB: You said sometimes you jump out of bed to record in writing an idea that has come to your mind. Are those fleeting thoughts such that you could lose the ideas if you don't quickly write them down?

Yvette Kendall: No. When I think of them I get excited. I wake myself up, write them down, and want to start working on them at that exact moment. I never write ideas down and go back to sleep because during those times it's too exciting.

They are complete thoughts when they show up.

VB: On your website you say, "…our creations are dynamic, technical and trendy." Would you talk a bit about this?

Yvette Kendall: People have called me 'Shevinci' because the things I do are revolutionary and futuristic. Dynamic refers to new ideas no one else has come up with. For me it's always dynamic.

I have developed some things that people have thought should be on The Jetsons cartoon. This is where the technical aspect comes into play. I often call a few people I trust when I come up with an idea and ask them what they think. They're usually floored because it's technical, but it makes so much simple sense.

Trendy is because it's new, but can be in sync with our current lifestyle.

VB: Do they always have to make the human condition better?

Yvette Kendall: It doesn't always but most often they do. Almost all of the things I invent in one shape or another improve our human condition. It's what comes to me.

VB: You mentioned in passing earlier that you don't have a lot of expertise in a specialized area. Is this a benefit to you as an inventor?

Yvette Kendall: To me it is. To others, it may not be.

By not having a specialized expertise I'm not zoned for a particular thing. When I talk to people who work in certain genres or subject areas they say, for example, "I only know how to do electrical engineering." "I only know how to do food science." It boxes them in.

I'm not boxed in because I don't have training or schooling in one area. It means I am able to create something that is an edible or consumable item, and then something that can help someone walk or breathe. It has been a great plus for me.

VB: Your education hasn't taught you it can't be done so you invent it.

Yvette Kendall: Yes. I will be the first one to say that I've never liked school. I could not wait to graduate from high school, and I never wanted to go to college or university.

I don't care for organized education but I do believe in educating yourself as you go. I love research. I love etymology and how the meaning of words has changed over time. I love languages. I love studying things that make our world work, such as our atmosphere, and more mysterious things like black holes.

Everything to me is tied into something else, either large or small.

VB: How does an idea become an invention?

Yvette Kendall: To me, they are one and the same. An idea is an invention once you verify that it's not already in use and it has a practical use.

The other day I developed something that makes total sense. I just filed for a patent pending so now I can talk about it. Actually you will be one of the first people to know about it. I invented bulletproof tape. People might ask, why would you need bulletproof tape? My answer is, imagine someone breaking into a school or kindergarten – we've had a number of school shootings – but the teachers and students each having a roll of this bulletproof tape in their desks. It's basically bulletproof fabric that has an adhesive like duct tape fused on one side of it. You unroll some of the tape, peel the backing off, and put it on your clothes or skin.

It provides the same protection as if it was a bulletproof vest, but it doesn't have the bulkiness of the vest. You can more than likely survive getting shot from close range and certainly from far away. You would get hurt – perhaps even to the point of a broken bone – but you wouldn't sustain a bullet hole. It would be great to be able to have this tape in your car or purse, or in schools in case you need to protect yourself and your family. Half of the people won't get it, while the other half will think it is great as a protection from random shootings. You can put the tape around anything – your arms, chest, head, or neck and it will provide instant, temporary protection.

I was watching TV one day and the idea came to me so I did some research. Sure enough, no product of this nature was available so I pursued the idea as an invention.

VB: You said you were watching TV and it came to you. Do you recall specifically what sparked this idea?

Yvette Kendall: There are many dissimilar things which can generate associations and connections. For example, when I'm watching TV sometimes I see components of my products come to life in the commercials. It's almost like chemistry. If two or more things are meant to be together, they will let you know it.

In the case of the bulletproof tape I saw a commercial about someone using duct tape and commenting, "Hey this duct tape can stick to anything. It could almost build houses. You could make clothes out of it." This part was obviously retained in my memory. Later I watched a television show where policemen were wearing vests while people around them were unprotected and got shot. The next minute I had the idea for bulletproof tape.

VB: Do you have a process you follow when designing products, services, and applications?

Yvette Kendall: Once I think of the idea and, through research, find that it is not currently available or registered as a patent, I file a provisional patent. I do this filing myself. The provisional patent will protect you globally for when you talk to people while trying to sell or license the rights to your invention. After this it's all about time and money.

I am careful to sign non-disclosure agreements with the companies I work with to do a proof of concept. It may entail paying them to do a prototype or schematics. Within this year after filing the provisional patent if the invention looks promising I proceed with filing a patent application. For this I need a patent agent or attorney because it's very specific and particular. I want to make sure I am covered as broadly as possible so I won't have my toe stepped on.

In the case of the bulletproof tape, I will likely contact someone who makes bulletproof clothing or material and someone who makes a duct tape like product, and then get these two companies together to render a prototype. The alternative would be to go straight to a prototype company.

VB: It is quite an expensive process.

Yvette Kendall: It is very expensive. Right now, it depends on where you go. I have garnered relationships with patent agents and patent attorneys to the point where they will bill me in increments. If you don't have such understanding agents or attorneys, they want everything up front and the cost depends on what type of patent you need. The more particular and detailed it is the more that they charge.

Patents can be anywhere from $3,000 to $18,000. After filing many provisional patents I had to find and build relationships in order to proceed with patent applications. The process is interesting, but you have to be patient. If you don't have the means you have to have somebody backing you, or you need to have financial backing from a group or a business partner who might have the funds that you don't.

VB: You have to believe in yourself.

Yvette Kendall: I cannot stress this enough.

When I came out with a couple of products, people said, "Oh it will never work. People would never buy it. You don't look the part. You don't talk the part. You don't have the right people in your circle of business acquaintances. Just go get a job at McDonald's or do something else." I still sometimes hear it to this day.

VB: I gather you ignore those comments.

Yvette Kendall: Oh yes, I've been ignoring them since 1998.

When you are a product developer or an inventor you have to be driven internally. It's a different force. You have to know that what you're doing will make a difference.

VB: You come up with many ideas?

Yvette Kendall: I have so many I almost never sleep. Everything to me is an idea. I am constantly thinking of products to develop.

What I need to do when I come up with these concepts is verify that they haven't been thought of already, because 'great minds think alike'. I might come up with something that I think is new but there exists an old patent which no one ever took to. My favorite quick search is Patft: Patents because it is part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If it already exists I see if I can improve upon the existing patent to make it better and newer so it can be brought to market.

VB: At what stage do you proceed to file a patent pending application?

Yvette Kendall: Once I find out that it's not already patented somewhere in the world I do it immediately. If I come up with a concept on Monday and I complete my research and recon by Friday, usually over the weekend I'm filing a patent. In some cases it's within the next 48 hours because, to me, when you have an idea you must be an expediter. If you take too long someone else will have the idea and beat you to the punch. I'm an expediter in that aspect.

VB: Given the cost to file a patent application do you have any advice about how to decide when an invention warrants a patent?

Yvette Kendall: I'm probably the worst person to answer this question, because to me everything warrants a patent. If it's something you feel strongly you want to bring to market and there is no other product like it, file a provisional patent. The cost went up in September 2011 but it's still only $125. This will cover you globally for one year.

Before the year ends you need to file a non-provisional patent that covers you for 20 years. I believe it's around $500 if you do it yourself using the USPTO's electronic filing system. If you pay a patent attorney it's going to be thousands of dollars. But within the next year you can do everything possible to either get the product on the market, or get someone to license it. That's always my goal.

I don't mind paying the $125 to protect my idea. Then I'll do the artwork to describe the concept, develop a web site, and circulate it on the Internet to see who may be interested in licensing the product. Before the year is up I can decide if I have some people on the hook who is be interested but needs a little more time. If so, I'll make the decision to go for the more expensive, non-provisional patent.

You have to file a provisional patent to protect your idea. If you try to sell your idea to a company that has more wherewithal, more money, and more researchers than you do, and they find out you are not protected – even if you use a non-disclosure agreement – may just put it on the market themselves. And they have the money to fight you in court if you try to contest it. It's best to go ahead and pay the $125, and see who is going to be interested within the 12 months. If you've garnered the interest within 12 months, go ahead and pay the money to get your non-provisional patent done, which covers you for 20 years.

That's my suggestion. As far as filing, if it is an original idea I would file for a provisional patent because you never know which product is going to be the one which gets you a licensing deal. For the more expensive patent I would wait to see who is going to be interested within those 12 months.

VB: To be a good inventor you have to be a good businessperson.

Yvette Kendall: Yes. After you have a great idea research and quality assurance testing still has to be done with professionals in their respective fields to verify what you have conjured up. You must confirm that the way you perceived and created the product is the only sensible way it could be done. After that, you have to spend time finding out how to get prototypes created and calling manufacturers to collaborate with you to give the invented soul a body.

When you're an inventor you're an artist. You tend to only want to do your art but, unfortunately, because you're dealing with money and people you have to be somewhat of a good businessperson. You have to learn to have this duality. Fortunately, before I went into business as an inventor I worked in Real Estate. This meant I understand the business aspect – not that I was the best businessperson. I understand the business aspect of contracts, negotiations, and communications.

VB: I understand you had the idea of an eReader before Amazon came out with the Kindle. Would you talk about this?

Yvette Kendall: While I was working at Human Resources for Michael Jordan's restaurant in Chicago in 1998, I looked out the window and saw a student walking down the street with a humongous backpack which looked like it was dragging him backwards. Then coming from the opposite direction I saw a young woman also walking with a humungous backpack. This scene repeated itself throughout the day. I said, "Wow. Wouldn't it be nice to have a device where they could upload the books they need rather than being burdened with the heavy weight of these bound books."

Back then mini CD-Rom's existed, but uploading documents through the Internet didn't. My concept was for students to go to the library or a store, buy a CD-Rom with the book loaded onto it, and then they could slide the CD-Rom into a device that would be read just like a book. It would have page forward and page back functions, would enable highlighting, would have a monochromatic screen, and open like the miniature laptops we now have. As a matter of fact, my design was for it to look exactly like the miniature laptops now available. Not only would it enable reading books, you could upload other things such as research papers.

I went to an Invention Help Service with my "Bookman" idea and attempted to obtain a patent for the device. At their suggestion I signed a 2-year disclosure with an Inventor's Help Center. The Center wanted the 2-year disclosure while I got the innards to this device developed, and then they would file for a full patent on the device. Not understanding exactly what this meant, I paid them, and then sent them information, pictures, and whatever schematics and verbiage I had. I thought that over this 2-year period they were doing the legwork to file a patent for me. Due to a lack of funds and technical assistance I put my idea for the Bookman on the backburner. This would have been my first ever product to bring from an idea to a physical product, and then to market. I wasn't aware of all that it entailed.

Some years later I was in an airport and I saw an advertisement for the Kindle and thought it was very interesting to say the least.

VB: Do you think the Kindle used some of your ideas for the Bookman, or was it merely a matter that two different people came up with similar ideas?

Yvette Kendall: Well, I developed and exposed the Bookman idea in 1998, the Invention Centre was in Washington, and my idea was filed with the USPTO not as a patent but under disclosure. The Kindle came to market in 2006 but I believe it was developed in 2001. The communication, verbiage, and reasoning underlying the Kindle product on the Internet was the exact same – 99% the same verbiage – as I had written.

The original Kindle was a two-screen product. They scaled it down to one screen for the market, but it will be coming out with a two-screen version. One of the reasons given for the device was they saw college students walking down the street with big bags filled with books, and they wanted to ease the weight by providing a device for them to use. There are some severe similarities. I think that the 2-year disclosure was released, they saw it, and said, "Hey, let's do this."

It is what it is.

VB: This must have been disappointing for you.

Yvette Kendall: It was very disappointing, and then to have the eBook be named the Kindle. I would love to ask Amazon where the name came from.

VB: Your love of motorcycle riding led you to the brainwave for Hatari Helmets. How did this happen?

Yvette Kendall: I come from a motorcycle riding family, but one particular day I was driving my truck down the street with my daughter. We were at a stoplight, and I looked up and saw a man on the left side of me on a motorcycle. It was amazing as I didn't hear or see him drive up. It was like he appeared out of thin air. He was wearing a black matte with an LED type light on either side of the helmet. Probably during nighttime they would look like two animal eyes. I said, "Wow. What if we made a flexible plasma screen and could upload actual moving lights instead of just the lights blinking on and off. There would be movement around the helmet." It would make him even more visible at night.

I then thought we could show his favorite graphics on the plasma screen. It would give the bike operator a unique product as well as providing lights for safety. This would be the ultimate in personalization.

I went even further and came up with the Shevinci Model Helmet which could be wirelessly paired with the turn signals and braking system of your motorized vehicle so motorists behind and along side of you would know where you are going. This was my couple of seconds thought.

My research concluded it was not available nor a patented idea. It developed from one product to another, and came to be a sophisticated idea. The Integrated Traffic Signal Helmet – the Shevinci Model – can be in sync with the regulated function of a motorcycle, 4-wheeler, or other recreational vehicle which is being ridden on a public or private road.

Another aspect of the helmet is the flexible LED screen is going to be under the clear and hard Department of Transportation approved safe shell. You will be able to download a movie and watch it with sound if you want. If you are riding and want to take a break you could pull over somewhere, download whatever movie you want to see, and watch it on the back of your helmet as you would any other TV screen. Or you could watch it in your hotel or motel room when on a trip.

VB: Have you received interest from anyone regarding commercializing the Hatari Helmet or the Shevinci Helmet?

Yvette Kendall: Not so much commercializing it.

I receive emails especially from out of the country – such as Brazil, Africa, Puerto Rico – where companies are asking for licensing rights for the helmets for their countries. I get a lot of calls from motorcycle clubs who want a unison type of flowing symbol on their helmets.

What I'd like to do is have a company currently making LEDs or already making motorcycle helmets to license the product. We've spoken with Harley Davidson, Bell Helmets, and a couple of other companies that have expressed interest. We're waiting to see how it pans out.

VB: Your Scalers Shoes invention has received a considerable amount of attention, including you being featured in the media. What is the Scalers Shoe, and how did this invention come about?

Yvette Kendall: The Scalers Shoe has a built-in body weight scale with a digital readout screen. It is a miniature version of a weight scale that you would see in your bathroom. Once you cease movement for a few seconds it will tell you your body weight.

Right now we have a lot of new developments with the type of coverings for the shoe. I was watching television one day – I guess TV is my greatest assistant for ideas – and I saw the Sketcher shape of shoes. People kept talking about the shoes they needed for exercise in order to lose weight. I said, "Everybody is overlooking something. Everybody wants to lose weight and they're buying special shoes to help them lose weight, but no one knows what their weight actually is."

The whole idea of losing weight is to find out how much weight you've lost. What people typically do is go to the gym to work out, and then come home and forget to weigh themselves. Or they neglect to weigh themselves except when they are at their doctor's for an annual check up. Reinforcement for weight loss or motivation to lose weight will be greater if you can monitor your weight more frequently. It therefore makes more sense to have this functionality available in your shoes.

VB: What are your marketing plans for this product?

Yvette Kendall: We've had a change in manufacturer and ultimately got off to a late start. We have had a lot of people who have placed pre-orders online.

My hope for any of the products I'm working on is to get product placements in some TV shows or movies. I'd love to see Scalers Shoes on "The Biggest Loser" or another popular weight loss show, or even on "The Boxer" because boxers have to weigh in all the time.

The same applies to Hatari Helmets. Imagine having those helmets in a Tron 3, or another motorcycle TV show or movie.

VB: Is the weighing device in the Scalers Shoe portable from one shoe to another or is it incorporated within the construction of the shoe?

Yvette Kendall: It can be either way.

It is currently built into the shoe because we want to brand the shoe, and not so much the device. In the future you're going to be able to remove the weighing devices because they will be a solid unit that will slide under the instep of the shoe.

Our patent covers us for animal uses as well. People who might want to weigh their dogs, pigs, or other animals.

Usually when I do patents I cross-pollinate it for non-human needs.

VB: You describe Meal Pearls as having the ability to 'aid in the world hunger crisis'. Would you talk about this?

Yvette Kendall: My goal was to discover a process for producing a bridge food. The idea is you could consume them all the time if you choose, but the real purpose would be to use them while waiting for rations when you are in emergency situations. They would be fabulous for this purpose.

Meal Pearls would be similar to a handful of rice or little pellets. You would swallow them with a fluid, usually water, and they would multiply 50 to 60 times their size within your stomach.

They will provide whatever nutrients you put in them such as proteins, or carbohydrates. They could be Gatorade-flavored and have the benefits of Gatorade. You may also want them to have medicinal benefits. We can incorporate all these different attributes into Meal Pearls.

While I was developing this idea I spoke to a chemist and explained that it was almost like swallowing a small handful of rice with some water. He said, "That's funny. I had a friend who was in the Viet Nam War and he said that's how the Vietnamese soldiers lived. They would swallow dry rice that would plump up in their stomachs. By doing this they were able to stay in their positions longer than Americans could because we were used to cooking our food." "A lot of times we had to move to find food which made us more vulnerable to attack whereas they could sit there, swallow their rice, and stay on point." I was fascinated to hear this.

VB: Have you thought about any other uses for Meal Pearls?

Yvette Kendall: I thought about it for homeless people. You could put Meal Pearls into gumball machines, and they could put in a penny or nickel, swallow them, drink some water, and stem off hunger.

VB: What has been your favorite invention, and why?

Yvette Kendall: All of them are like my children. I come up with ideas, stay with them until they're able to walk on their own, and then they move out and I have the next one.

The latest one I've done is usually my favorite at the time, but right now it would have to be Cleencups. This is because it has so many different applications where antibacterial cups are needed.

VB: It's your favorite because of its hygienic reasons, or potential for commercialization?

Yvette Kendall: It's because of the scope of potential sales.

The antibacterial ink is showcased on disposable cups but it can go on almost anything. You can use it in varnish or paint, on wallpaper, on tin cans, or on screens that people touch all the time – even on toilet paper. There are 150 other products that can benefit by this product in addition to disposable cups.

VB: Do you have any advice for inventors who are struggling to take the next steps from design and applying for a Patent Pending, to being successful at commercializing the product?

Yvette Kendall: People tend to believe in what they can see, and what they can experience. I believe this wholeheartedly.

When I develop something I remind myself to make it real. If you can't get a physical prototype then do an artist's rendering. Get photographs. Develop a content page on the Internet describing what the product does and doesn't do. Get ideas, suggestions, or compliments from people you have spoken to about the product idea. Make sure it's visible.

Make sure it's easy to understand what it is, what it does, what it looks like, and what it feels like. People tend to agree with you on what they can see versus what you are telling them. People's breadth of imagination may not be as big as you think. You have to help them understand your concepts.

When I went to explain Cleencups to people, a number responded, "I don't get it. The cup is clean when you take it out of the package. Why does the cup then need to be cleaned?" Of course, the answer is it has nothing to do with the cup. It has to do with the persons' hands being dirty when they reach for the cup.

The best thing I can tell inventors is to make sure you have a clear understanding of the content of your idea. Make sure you have some pictorials that people can buy into. You're going to need some money so unless you are independently well off you need to start making relationships with people who have money, are willing to believe in you, and invest in what you're doing so you can get to the next level in the development of your idea. You can have the best idea in the world but if you can't get it into the right hands, or in front of the right eyes, it is just going to be your bright idea.

VB: You talked about pictorials and prototypes. Are they useful because our spoken language is not as effective as people being able to see the expression of an idea?

Yvette Kendall: People don't like to buy into words.

The pictorial along with your description are generally what's going to get people to want to be involved. It is like staging a house for sale. If people walk into a house and see all white walls, white background, white kitchen, and it's not in the greatest neighborhood, more than likely they will turn down the property. But if the property has great furniture, nice carpet or hardwood on the floor, beautiful window drapes, a bowl of fruit on the table, and it smells good – such as fresh baked bread – they'll overlook the fact it's not in the best area. It is because it's been well showcased.

What we do is no different.

VB: To be a good inventor you have to be a good artist?

Yvette Kendall: Yes, you need to be a good artist or have access to a great artist if you're going to be an excogitator. Anytime you are presenting to one or more persons you want them to feel what you're feeling. You want them to understand what you understand.

People often don't understand the point you're trying to get across so pictures help a lot.

VB: How does emotion fit into this? How people feel when they see your invention?

Yvette Kendall: It figures into it a lot.

It's odd because people treat what they want to invest their money in like they would when deciding on the clothes they want to wear or the food they will eat. Every choice they make is emotional first, and then it's business. It's never business first and then emotion.

I've had people say, "Well, it's a great product, but personally I don't like it. I am quite sure 50 million people will buy it. I personally don't like it so I'm not interested in commercializing it." This is a problem because often they're the gatekeepers.

I understand the impact of emotions but for me, I would first ask whether a product makes total sense – not whether I would or would not use or like it. If I knew a billion people would use it I would still support the product.

VB: Do you think that the Shevinci Helmet will play on the emotions of bikers?

Yvette Kendall: Yes, it plays on the emotions of the bikers and also on the surrounding motorists. The motorists will appreciate that the bikers have put thought into being seen and being courteous.

There are many people who are not courteous while they are driving – especially motorcycle drivers. They'll cut over because they know they're small, thin, and quick. People like to know you made an extra effort for safety.

If you are driving a large moving truck or a semi you won't have to look down at the motorcycle's rear frame to see what their turns will be or when they apply their brakes. It is much more evident when at eye-level, and this means the driver is less likely to run over the motorcyclist.

VB: It's interesting you described how some bikers operate. What you didn't include is they are physically vulnerable.

Yvette Kendall: Yes. Interestingly, bikers don't always realize they're physically vulnerable even though they see evidence of it every day. They think, 'I'm a better driver. I'm quicker. I'm going to anticipate this motorist's intentions.

A lot of motorcyclists feel invincible which explains why they do a lot of the things they do. The Shevinci Helmet is something that is impressive for vehicle drivers because it gives a clear message from the biker that 'I don't want you to run me over so I'm going to tell you when I'm going to turn left, when I'm going right, and when I'm stopping.

VB: What are your thoughts about invention promotion firms?

Yvette Kendall: Oh, I don't like them. They prey on inventors who don't know any better. They give inventors just enough information to appear to be needed.

People with an innovative idea should know that you can call the United States Patent and Trademark Office and they'll advise you all you have to do is to get some paper, type out what your idea is and what you're trying to do, file it, and pay the $125 filing fee. When you do this you're covered and protected for one year.

You may know someone who is an artist or you can do the drawings yourself. You can be comprehensive with what you file, or you can be very limited. If you say I've thought of the design for a new helmet, and can describe what it does or what is unique about it, the USPTO will ask, "Do you have pictures?" If you say "No," they'll advise you that you don't need them. All they want to know is what it is and how it works. You don't have to file anything more than that for your $125.

Invention Centers are not as helpful as they appear to be.

VB: Don't the invention promotion firms argue they specialize in the promotion of inventions to try to get them commercialized?

Yvette Kendall: Yes, this is one of their arguments but it's something that you can do on your own.

If they do know of a company willing to license your product, you're going to be out of a lot of money or need to give up a high percentage of your license revenue simply because they've made a phone call on your behalf.

Almost everyone I've had the pleasure of meeting with regarding my products I've connected with by phone. I ask for the Director of Research and Development and will either talk to them or they will give me an email address to send them my invention idea for consideration. This works well because I then send them a pictorial of the product idea, describe its features, and identify the benefits if this company were to be willing to work with me. I would say 7 out of 10 times they have called back and requested a meeting. I've had no problem getting my ideas into the right hands.

I also promote my product ideas on the Internet. I use Facebook, but you can use whatever social network you're on. I pump the product.

I receive a lot of emails from people who are interested or say they know the owner of a company who might be interested. I've had emails from people saying they are friends with the owner of Harley Davidson, or that they know Dean Kamen of Segway who invented the bionic arm. Use what's available to you rather than paying a company and waiting for them to deliver the results you need.

Invention promotion firms are quick to tell you in effect, "We may not be able to do anything after we take your money." But this is what inventing is all about. You throw a dart and hope it sticks. You can throw your own darts!

VB: There are a number of sad stories on the Internet about people who feel they've been taken advantage of by such invention promotions firms.

Yvette Kendall: Yes, it's because they want to be paid first and they eloquently tell you once you have paid, "Nothing may ever happen." You have better odds with using your money to do your own promotion. This means getting a prototype made, having an artist do a rendering of the work that you're doing, and contacting companies on your own.

VB: Are you pleased with the change in the U.S. patent reform, which is moving from a first to invent to a first to file approach?

Yvette Kendall: The funny thing is I have always thought it was first to file until they made it obvious that it wasn't. Even then I was lukewarm about the change. I thought that anyone who contested by saying, "I invented it first." would end up with a dispute in court. Now that they've changed it to first to file, it seems to amount to the same thing.

I talked with USPTO two days ago about a patent I just filed and they said, "If someone comes to us and alleges they created an invention a week before the other person, we review it, and if it's something we can't come to terms with, the two parties will end up in court to hash it out." So it's really not that big of a difference.

VB: Do you have any other things you would like to share with our IdeaConnection readers?

Yvette Kendall: Some large Corporations need to be a little bit more available and open. When you call some companies you have to have the people's blood type and their first-born child's name in order to speak to someone in the appropriate department. They need to be a little bit fairer because often the companies' contracts benefit them so much more than the person who actually invented the product.

For example, if Burger King licensed a new wrapping product for their food they will likely want to own the patent, give you a royalty that is not very lucrative, and not allow you to tell others that you developed it. If they are going to purchase the patent rights they will offer perhaps $10,000 for a patent which you know will likely generate $10 billion in revenues, benefits, or cost reductions.

Inventors have to consider their portfolio of inventions in terms of 'you will win some and lose some'. If you have a product which you decide to lose on just to get a relationship with a company which will commercialize your inventions, then everything else from that point onward should be a winner financially. This should be your negotiating position as you think about commercializing your inventions.

VB: I recently read a piece of advice for inventors which was there are not many ideas that are million dollar inventions, but inventors tend to think every one of their ideas is a million dollar idea. Does this ring a bell with you?

Yvette Kendall: Yes, we do have this view.

Inventions are pretty much like our children. No one wants to hear that your child is substandard and ugly. You think your children are the greatest, the cutest, and they can do things the best.

The bottom line as an inventor is you have to look at it with a 360-degree perspective. If you were to buy this product or service, if you were to own it, or if you were the person who wanted to license the product how much would it be worth? Its value has to be considered in comparison to other existing or adjacent products and services. Inventors have to be realistic when we want to sell our ideas, and it helps to be realistic if we ask ourselves how much we would be willing to pay for the invention if we had to take all the risks associated with commercialization.

When I developed the idea of the Bookman, the Inventor Centre rated it for practicality and sensibility as being number 1 out of 10, 10 being the best. They said it didn't make sense. It wasn't practical. They didn't think anyone would buy it so the message was pretty much don't waste your time. And here in 2012 we cannot do anything without an iPad, Notebook, Kindle, or mobile communications device.

Yes, we get kind of funny when people say our invention is not the best, there are other competing things for development, and take the dollar value we offer you because somebody else may only offer you a dime. It's one of those fine lines you have to walk – not undervaluing nor overvaluing your ideas.

VB: Is there anything we haven't talked about that you would like to share with us?

Yvette Kendall: Yes. I would like to talk about InventHer Solutions LLC. It's a new company I've co-founded with Serena Moore. She was interested in four or five of the products I was licensing. She said, "I want to be involved with everything that rolls out of your head." "I want to do the helmets and the Meal Pearls. I want to work with you."

We thought it would be best to start a corporation to organize multiple products that I had patent applications for and proceed to monetize them. This means I am now able to systematically create and bring products to market in a more realistic time frame.

We formed InventHER Solutions which is geared towards helping women who have great ideas which can and will change the market. We will help them bring their ideas to light because women are not well represented in the field of inventions.

Serena is great at marketing, is an excellent speaker, and has an outgoing personality and attitude which people love. I'm the opposite. I'm an introvert. I want to stay in my lab, develop as many Frankenstein monsters as I can, and give them to her to bring to market. We are Yin and Yang, and we work well together which is why InventHER Solutions came to be. I'm in the back in the engine room, and she's driving so we work well in that aspect.

VB: Would you talk about your Think Tank Team?

Yvette Kendall: Actually we're still putting it together. We're looking for people who think similar thoughts as far as the types of products to invent. We want quality ideas. Right now we have a couple of people who hold patents and are looking to help others with the patent process.

We never say someone's idea doesn't make sense. It may need to be put into a different light or understanding.

We're still looking for people for our Think Tank. Right now I'm heading it, but my time is limited as I'm able to turn out a patent every couple of days if I choose to do so. We're moving forward quickly.

VB: Could you talk a bit more about InventHER Solutions. You said you want to help women who are inventors. Are you going to help them develop their ideas, patent them, or work to market their ideas? What are you offering?

Yvette Kendall: We'll help them at whatever stage that they are at.

Some women are first time inventors, and are at the stage of "I have this idea. What do I do?" We want to work with them and educate them about the process. "What is it you really want to do?" 'How do you want to get it into the marketplace?" "How much do you know about the whole patent process?" "How realistic are your revenue expectations?"

Others know what is going on, have probably been to Invention Centers, or have worked with the USPTO, but they don't have the financial means to take it to the next level. We can help them because we have in-house patent attorneys and patent agents who we work with and can offer services to help see their products to the market.

We want to put it under a women's stamp because we are not as well represented in the field of inventing as men are. And we should be.

VB: In your experience is there a tendency for women's inventions to not be looked at as seriously by corporate executives?

Yvette Kendall: This is definitely true.

Most product developers, who happen to be men by the way, don't take what a lot of women have to say seriously unless they have a number of products that have been profitable on the market. Unfortunately they look at what we do as being a hobby, as being a homemaker who accidentally poured something into something else and said, "Wow."

Many don't look at us as business people who can bring something to the market in this rapidly changing world. We're not as visible as we would be if we were men, let alone educated men.

I've had people, especially with my Cleencups invention, which has an antibacterial ink, ask me, "What College did you go to? What chemistry lab did your research?" When they learn that I have a high school diploma and am from the south side of Chicago they think, 'Well, you couldn't have invented this product idea.' They stereotype me because the Cleencups product screams of being developed by someone who has studied biochemistry.

There are a lot of different prejudices that have to do with being female and not having the right background.

VB: I recently spoke with an author who writes about creativity, and he commented that having a college education can be detrimental to your creativity.

Yvette Kendall: Yes, as I said before it does put a box around you. But as far as bringing products to the market people in many companies unfortunately want to know that you are well educated and especially well educated in the area where you are doing your inventing.

There are good examples that can be used to debunk this stereotypical view. Recall the young lady who made 'White-Out' – it was nothing but colored nail polish.

VB: If a woman who has an invention wants help can she contact you or Serena Moore?

Yvette Kendall: Yes, we welcome women who are inventors to contact us.

We feel like advocates for all the women who have something to offer this world but have been hindered by their sex and perhaps also by their race, education, finances, or by not being able to get in touch with the right people. Or they may not know or need help with the process of moving a great idea to the level of a patent.

It has been a treat to speak with Yvette Kendall who is highly creative and passionate about new ideas. We wish her much success as an inventor – as a 'Lead Excogitator'.

Yvette Kendall's Bio:
Yvette Kendall is President of the Shevinci Innovations Group and Vice President of InventHer Solutions, LLC, an IP company.

Originally from Chicago and a product of the Chicago Public School system, she grew up in a small popular area of Chicago called "Hyde Park" which was home to President Obama and Mrs. Obama. Yvette Kendall learned about barbering and developed a love for hair care in the same barbershop as President Obama got his hair trimmed while he was initially getting into politics.

Yvette Kendall develops Intellectual Property and creates products for the market and private individuals. After inventing the 'Bookman' eBook Reader in 1998, which was not well received by an invention help service, she continued on an inventor's path and began to nurture her love for making the unusual and things she would like to see on store shelves. In this work she has had the opportunity to work with a wide range of people in various genres who have helped her obtain a broad view of what new products are needed for the marketplace.

Yvette Kendall has filed for over 30 patents pending and has several products in the marketplace. One, which she considers to be her best discovery, is 'Cleencups'. It is a food-safe anti-bacterial drinking cup that sanitizes the hands when users touch it.
Other products she has invented include 'Hatari Helmets' which are motion graphic and animated motorcycle helmets, 'Scalers Shoes' which are fitness sneakers with a built-in body weight scale with digital read out screen, and 'Meal Pearls' which are an emergency food source developed by use of Bio-Polymers. She has developed several mobile applications, food products, and skin care items. Yvette Kendall has also created search engine improvements and new television and cable system scenarios.

Share on      
Next Interview »

Reader Comments

I was suggested this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my trouble. You are incredible! Thanks!
Posted by medical advice sitesCE health educationCE on March 9, 2017

Excellent article.

Economists have focused on two main types: product and process. A
product innovation is the act of bringing something new to the market
place that improves the range and quality of products on offer: for exam­ple, the Apple iPod is an innovation compared with the Sony Walkman, which was an earlier portable device for playing music. A process innova­tion is a new way of making or delivering goods or services.

Innovate or perish is the Mantra in the Industry now.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore 524 002 AP ,India
Posted by Anumakonda Jagadeesh on November 7, 2012

dear vern:
on seeing discovery channel 5 th march 2012 the documentry shows on tragedy of world trade center. i saw the facts more on sometimes but now i have get an idea how to develop the pilots on cockpits.the fbi of us gov cannot change to do solve the disaster killing missions.
the only way on the cockpits the terrorist killed the pilots by knife.and next take the cockpits. the pilot can not give any signal to towers or available airports. all those happened by seconds. the killers take controls the plans and nobody can resist.
so my desgn here is:

1. if the pilots give only coded signal transfer to the tower of airport for his or her only prescribed man exists there.

2. every 1 mins later from to start to fly he commnicate with tower. As he also voice communication with tower to inform will be additional jobs.

3. the new communication media be hands throttle besides module press by reminds the pilots existing.

4.if any gap of communication of new will treats the pilots of absense and the informations backed to tower to army allience.

all of the above awareness can draw a pictures to the minds of tower commnication as well army and nationls there .next the foregoing action there.

thanks vern.
Posted by mustafizur rahman on March 6, 2012